Author: Pascal Nicholas
Source: Progressive Grocer
While every retail business shares some common needs, such as efficient transaction speeds and strong customer retention, each individual business will have its own particular problems and requirements.
Specialty grocers, which deal with smaller suppliers and niche products and markets, will have different priorities from regular grocery stores or large chains. Fortunately, point-of- sale (POS) technology continues to evolve and offers solutions to suit even the most specialized needs.
Innovative POS features that are especially useful for helping specialty grocers to improve their business include the following:
1. ECOMMERCE AND ONLINE ORDERING
Today’s consumers are more internet-connected than ever, and have come to rely on the convenience of being able to take multiple paths to purchase. Being able to offer online ordering through a website or mobile app — whether it’s for delivery or a “buy online, pick up at store” (BOPIS) program — is a key advantage to winning more customers and making more sales. A growing percentage of total sales for large chains such as Walmart comes from online ordering methods, and current POS solutions make it possible for smaller businesses to experience the same growth.
As a specialty grocer, you’re most likely offering unique or local products marketed to a smaller subset of the general consumer base. Making your goods available through as many channels as possible is crucial for maximizing revenue. And the convenience of online ordering increases customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to more sales. In today’s environment, omnichannel is the way to go.
2. ROBUST INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
Specialty goods, particularly organic products, are often only available from smaller, independent vendors and are more expensive to order, so maintaining optimal inventory levels can be tricky. You want to avoid both stock outages and food waste from unsold goods spoiling.
Robust inventory management is another must-have POS feature. Look for the ability to track inventory in real time and receive alerts when stock levels reach a specified point. POS sales data can also tell you what to reorder, as well as when: See which products are selling well, and which aren’t, to make the most informed buying decisions.
3. VENDOR RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT
Demand for local products is rising steadily: The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects sales of locally produced foods to reach $20 billion this year. The supply chain is still a challenge, however, requiring technology innovations to keep up.
The best POS solutions offer assistance with vendor management. Good communication is important, especially when working with smaller, local suppliers. You should be able to check product availability, place reorders from your inventory control program as needed, and even manage delivery times with your local vendors. Your relationships with your suppliers are just as important as your relationships with your customers.
4. SCALE AND SCANNER INTEGRATION
Specialty grocers often sell products in bulk or by weight, from organic coffee beans to freshly made potato salad from the deli counter. By law, these sales require the use of a scale that’s certified by the National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) as “legal for trade.” You’ll want a POS solution that can integrate with such a scale.
Calculating precise weight measurements improves the accuracy of inventory control, even on harder-to-track bulk items, and helps decrease shrinkage. Integration with a bar code scanner (that can read weight-embedded bar codes as well) can also increase checkout speed and improve efficiency.
Grocery stores and specialty markets should be leveraging coupons to increase both sales and customer loyalty. The grocery industry all but invented the paper coupon; however, with digital couponing becoming more popular, there’s no longer as much of demand for “clipped coupons” from a newspaper.
6. LOYALTY PROGRAMS
Loyalty programs not only attract new customers, but also increase customer retention. To stay competitive, specialty grocers need to offer customers the opportunity to join an exclusive loyalty program and earn discounts on specific items.
THE BEST FIT FOR YOUR NEEDS
Today’s POS solutions can help specialty grocers to leverage the same advantages as their larger competitors. There are features available to address specialized needs as well as universal ones, to increase efficiencies and maximize revenue. Look for a provider who understands your industry and can help you select the tools that you need to grow your business.